Yes, that is the question. I mean, we're a hardscaping company, so I guess we should tell you what they are. You never know -- you just in might need one on your property!
Hardscapes are permanent landscape features made of stone, brick or concrete (and other stuff -- hard stuff -- thus, "hardscape") that cover the natural earth. A hardscape could be a path of paving stones, a sidewalk or a ground level brick patio. Anybody can throw a bunch of rocks on the ground and call it a path, but turning it into a proper hardscape is a bit more complex.
Drainage is probably the most important consideration. Hardscapes block the natural earth, so you need to make sure that runoff flows the right way. Do it wrong, and your pretty patio will turn the yard next to it into a small, muddy pond. (We know water features are popular, but that's just cheating. Call us to get it done the right way!) Placement and materials are the two main considerations.
In terms of placement, we make sure that hardscape surfaces are pitched to carry runoff away from your home and other spots where you don't want to see a lot of water build up. On the other hand, you can't direct the water on an extreme slope without risking over-fast building and nearby soil erosion. The key is to consider the entire landscape and work with it (or change it!), adding additional features (like retaining walls) when they're called for.
Materials matter according to their ability to absorb water. Absorbent porous or "pervious" materials either let water soak through into the ground or hold onto it to prevent rapid surface runoff. If your hardscape exists to divert water away from a spot, you obviously want to avoid these, but if you want to control rapid runoff, pervious materials are the way to go.
Those are the basics any good hardscaping company will take into account. Want a nice, tough path or patio? Give us a shout!